Pittsburgh Pirates: Vastly Improved Rotation Provides Ray of Hope

Paul LadewskiCorrespondent IIJune 2, 2011

(For complete Pirates coverage, see Piratesreport.com.)

PITTSBURGH – The drastic improvement of the Pirates rotation isn't the story of the first third of the season. At this rate, it may be the story of the century.

The starters have a combined 3.53 earned run average, a silly 1.75 earned runs per game better than last season. National League starters have a 4.07 ERA as a whole, the same as it was last season, so the hike isn't artificial, either.

After last season, when the rotation had a league-worst 5.28 ERA, it couldn't help but get better, the theory went. Yet nobody expected it to improve this much, this soon. Not only that, but the group is pretty much the same one that finished last season, as Kevin Correia is the only new member.

Can the starters maintain this pace for the rest of the season? Maybe, probably not. I mean, the Philadelphia Phillies' Phab Phive have a comparable ERA at more than five times the cost for godsakes. Still, pitching coach Ray Searage deserves a gold star at the very least.

At the start of the day, here was the breakdown of National League starters' ERAs last season and this season and the difference between them:

1. Pirates 5.28 3.53 +1.75

2. Atlanta Braves 3.80 3.15 +0.65

3. Los Angeles Dodgers 3.99 3.64 + 0.35

4. San Francisco Giants 3.54 3.19 +0.35

5. Washington Nationals 4.61 4.27 +0.34

6. Milwaukee Brewers 4.65 4.33 +0.32

7. Florida Marlins 4.14 3.93 +0.21

8. Philadelphia Phillies 3.55 3.39 +0.16

9. Arizona Diamondbacks 4.39 4.27 +0.12

10. San Diego Padres 3.73 3.88 -0.15

11. Colorado Rockies 4.21 4.39 -0.18

12. St. Louis Cardinals 3.50 3.78 -0.28

13. New York Mets 3.80 4.19 -0.39

14. Houston Astros 3.90 4.62 -0.72

15. Cincinnati Reds 4.05 4.88 -0.83

16. Chicago Cubs 4.00 5.60 -1.60

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